Wine & Poker, not the odd couple it used to be

When columnist, author, and hotshot poker player Victoria Coren Mitchell made headlines this week by becoming the first two-time winner of the European Poker Tour, it wasn’t just because she was a woman. Somewhat of a big deal was made out of the fact that while she was busy racking up her £391,392 cash purse, she also consumed a heavy amount of red wine.


Afterwards, when she was asked about her execution, the outspoken Londoner said, “Well, obviously if I’d expected to answer that question, I’d have drunk less wine today. I barely remember my own name.” To be fair, the tournament was held along the Italian Riviera, which, for those who visit the coastal getaway, is a utopian stretch of oeneology and viticulture. Who could blame Coren Mitchell for drinking as many celebratory glasses of wine as she needs to while she’s making history at the poker tables? What a perfect way to celebrate.

Wine & Poker pair well.

Wine & Poker pair well.


Wine has always had a strange, almost non-existent relationship with the game of poker. In the U.S., a business owner named Geno Foschi tried to sell a portion of his fine wine collection so that he can enter a high-stakes poker tournament. “The wine for sale includes 13 bottles of Château Margaux 1984, five bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild 1984 and six bottles of Château Margaux 1982,” Andy Young wrote. In 2012, a well-known US poker player named Joe Sebok left the gambling world to work at a grape-crushing facility in Santa Rosa, California. “People who love poker really love poker, and people who love wine really love wine,” said Sebok. “There’s something to be said for strong opinions and the passion that drives them.”


Yes, there is something to be said for the wine/poker comparison. Perhaps this is why a French company has created the card game, Wine Poker. This three-to-ten player game requires each player to have one or two bottles of French wine, poker chips, and a sock (or aluminum foil) to hide the wine label. The object of the game is for each player to taste the wine and guess which French region each bottle comes from. If you must play this game, I suggest you bring a couple of bottles of Chateau Les Traverses 2006 from the Medoc, which I also recommended a while back.


In April 2013, the World Poker Tour made its way back to Johannesburg, South Africa for the Emperors Palace Poker Tour. WPT’s blog lists a winery tour as one of the few “excursions” that the hotel/casino has to offer. I wonder which winery these guests will have the opportunities to visit. Will it be one of my favorites, Spice Route? Or will they get the chance to take the whole trip through the Constantia Valley. I would wish them luck in finding the their favorites, but most of them will probably need that luck more for the poker games.